Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

Category

Back to Home -> Mishpatim ->


ויבא משה ויספר לעם את כל דברי ד'... ויען כל העם ויאמרו כל הדברים אשר דבר ד' נעשה קול אחד

Moshe came and told the people all the words of Hashem… and the entire people responded with one voice and they said, “All the words that Hashem has spoken, we will do.” (24:3)

There is a debate among the Rishonim concerning this parsha, which records Hashem’s instructions to Moshe Rabbeinu vis-à-vis the Torah and the nation’s affirmative response. Rashi contends that the events mentioned in this parsha actually preceded the Revelation and the Giving of the Torah – which is recorded in Parashas Yisro. As far as sequence is concerned, we apply the principle: Torah is not necessarily written in chronological order. Other Rishonim, among them Ramban and Ibn Ezra, feel that these events occurred following the Giving of the Torah. In any event, we will digress and focus on the actual Giving…

Continue Reading

כי תראה חמור שונאך רובץ תחת משאו... עזוב תעזוב עמו

When you see the donkey of your enemy lying under its burden… you must nevertheless raise it with him. (23:5)

Targum Yonasan explains the words, Azov taazov imo; “You must nevertheless raise it with him,” as: Mishbok tashbok b’ha’hi shaata yas sina b’libach alvi v’tifrok v’siton imi, “You should vacate your feelings of animosity (at that time) towards him and assist with him.” Apparently, he interprets azov taazov imo as: vacate your feelings of hatred towards him, while azov taazov applies to one’s negative feeling against this person. [While one should never hate a Jew, this refers to one who has sinned.] Why must he relinquish his animus in order to provide support? He does what he must do because…

Continue Reading

כי תקנה עבד עברי

When you acquire a Hebrew bondsman. (21:2)

The Torah selected the laws concerning the purchase of an eved Ivri and the master/servant relationship between the master and his Hebrew bondsman to be the opening mitzvah following the nation’s receiving the Torah at Har Sinai. This Revelation and Giving of the Torah culminated their redemption from Egypt and their becoming Hashem’s select people. In order to understand the preeminence of this mitzvah and its overarching significance for molding the national character of Klal Yisrael, I cite the commentary of the Sefer Chinuch. The mitzvah of eved Ivri is the adjudication of the law concerning the Hebrew bondsman: to…

Continue Reading

ואלה המשפטים אשר תשים לפניהם

And these are the ordinances that you shall place before them. (21:1)

Rashi comments, lifneihem, “before them” (Klal Yisrael) and not before those who worship the stars and constellations. When Moshe Rabbeinu descended from Har Sinai and saw the nation’s repulsive behavior, dancing around the Golden Calf that the people had created, he shattered the Luchos, Tablets, that he was carrying; thus, the Torah returned to its Heavenly sphere. It no longer had value in this world, because the Jewish People did not appreciate it. Horav Elchanan Wasserman, zl, distinguishes between secular knowledge/ disciplines – which one can study, and in which he can even achieve proficiency, without adhering to the lessons…

Continue Reading

ויקם משה ויהושע משרתו ויעל משה אל הר אלקים

Moshe stood up with Yehoshua, his student, and Moshe ascended to the Mountain of G-d. (24:13)

Yehoshua was neither commanded to accompany Moshe Rabbeinu, nor did he have any function at the mountain. Nonetheless, as the loyal student and servant, he accompanied his Rebbe and waited for him at the foot of the mountain for forty days until he returned. The question is obvious: What did Yehoshua achieve by waiting at the bottom of the mountain? If he thought he would miss something, he could have set his “alarm clock” for forty days later (in the morning) and run up to the mountain and wait for Moshe. Why did he camp out at the mountain for…

Continue Reading

וגר לא תונה ולא תלחצנו כי גרים הייתם בארץ מצרים

You shall not taunt or oppress a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. (22:20)

The Torah shows its concern for the proper treatment of the weak, helpless, abandoned and the stranger/convert, who feel alone, estranged, although they should be welcomed and embraced. It is sad that there exist among us the few who lord over others due to their own insecurities. These people consider themselves better, privileged, powerful when, in fact, they are the ones who are weak and pathetic. The prohibition against any mistreatment of a ger, convert, is prefaced with a serious reminder to look back to our own history, when we were strangers in the land of Egypt. A newcomer to…

Continue Reading

כל אלמנה ויתום לא תענון

You shall not cause pain to any widow or orphan. (22:21)

It is understandable that one should not afflict the widow and orphan. Why would anyone who has a modicum of human decency have to be commanded not to take advantage of the weak and defenseless? Apparently, when a profit can be made, or one can assuage his ego by dominating over others, human decency has little meaning – and even less influence. Horav Yechiel Meir, zl, m’Gustinin was asked why the Torah emphasizes that one many not afflict a widow and an orphan, as if one is permitted to do so to an ordinary Jew who is not a victim…

Continue Reading

ואלה המשפטים אשר תשים לפניהם

And these are the ordinances that you shall place before them. (21:1)

Hashem commanded Moshe Rabbeinu to present a clear picture of Jewish civil law, teaching the people not only the letter of the law, but also its spirit – underlying principles and reasoning. This way they would develop a deeper understanding of the law, thus allowing for greater application. It is a desecration of Hashem’s Name for a Jew to bring litigation before a secular court, because, by inference, it indicates that their system of justice is superior to ours. (In certain instances, the power of a secular court is necessary to deal with a recalcitrant litigant. With Rabbinical approval, one…

Continue Reading

לא תזבח על חמץ דם זבחי

You shall not offer the blood of My feast-offering upon leavened bread. (23:18)

The Korban Pesach must be slaughtered on Erev Pesach, after all chametz has been disposed of. The Sefer HaChinuch explains that setting a designated time for the fulfillment of all matters is their source of preservation. Thus, concerning Korban Pesach — which is a seminal mitzvah included among a group of mitzvos affiliated with the liberation from Egypt and setting the stage for our nationhood — time and order are essential. The Torah gives preordained times for each and every component of the celebration of this Festival and its accompanying rituals. No commandment related to this time frame encroaches on…

Continue Reading

לא תהיה לו כנושה

Do not act toward him as a creditor. (22:24)

Hashem’s act of creating the world was an act of altruism. The Almighty needs nothing. He simply wants to do good, to benefit others. To this end, he expects His People to emulate His ways by identifying with the needs of others and looking for ways to alleviate their travail. It is important to underscore that travail comes in all forms and sizes. Just because an issue does not bother me does not mean that it would not bother anyone else. Our barometer for success is measured by what we do for others – not by what we do for…

Continue Reading

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our weekly Peninim on the Torah list!

You have Successfully Subscribed!